Natalie Denny, 32, says she’s been asked everything from ‘can I use a crisp packet as a condom’ to if ‘vagina is what you put on your chips’ – but nothing phases her.
Natalie has worked for Brook, an organisation that works to educate primary school pupils and adults to the age of 25 on sexual health, for four years now.
As an education and wellbeing manager organising teams across the North West of England, she’s answered every query imaginable by Liverpool’s young people.
Everyone remembers the giggling, awkward questions and condom demonstrations from sex education lessons – but Natalie has spoken about what it’s really like teaching teenagers about sex.
Natalie told the Liverpool Echo : “One of the main ones is, ‘can you get pregnant if you’re on your period?’ Something that young people don’t seem to understand is that you can!”
Other questions Natalie’s had thrown at her include “isn’t vagina what you put on your chips?” and “can you still get pregnant if you have a bath after sex?”
Natalie said: “You’ll get kids who think they know a lot but they don’t, because they’ve heard it from older brothers, sisters, family members – I’ve had a kid say to me ‘can you use a crisp packet as a condom?’ or the ‘double barrel method’ of using two condoms.
“Things like ‘can you use it twice?’ but these are questions that young people will just have.
“They’ve got access to porn but none of that background behind it. They’re seeing the physical, mechanical act but they’re not given that support. That’s why all our work has that idea of relationships and pleasure.”
Years spent teaching sex education have left Natalie completely unphased by anything students might throw at her.
She said: “It’s important to have a laugh and it doesn’t matter if they’re giggling because at the end of the day it’s fun.
“When we’re talking about sex and relationships we’re trying to move away from the taboo of it and let young people know they can express themselves in positive ways.
“We’re trying to give them the space to do that because some people don’t have that. We’re trying to normalise that and have a discussion – I’m not phased by it.“
Brook’s staff have even been using Love Island as a way to engage young people about sex and relationships.
Gabby’s on-screen breakdown about “not being as pretty” as the other girls in the villa provided an amazing talking point about body image and peer pressure.
Natalie said: “Love Island has been a massive thing for young people recently. We’ve even started some sessions about Love Island characters, like ‘what do you think about Kem and Amber?’
”For us that was a way to speak to young people about stuff.”
Teaching sex education to young people today involves a completely different challenges for Brook’s staff, working with teenagers who are exposed to sexting and violent online porn from a young age.
Natalie said: “In Liverpool what’s a big thing is sending images, that’s one of the main things at the moment we are getting.
“This is completely normalised for young people so they see it as a normal way of engaging and flirting and it’s not a big deal.
“A lot of them aren’t aware of the law around that, so they don’t understand if they send an image under 18 it’s ‘creating an indecent image of a child’, even if that child is themselves.
“The angle we go into is trying not to frighten young people or scare them into submission, we just try to educate them as much as we can.“
Access to porn from a young age has fuelled a whole host of insecurities and expectations among young people on everything from penis size to shaving and consent. Read More on Mirror